Schulberg, Budd 1914–
Schulberg, Budd 1914–
(Budd Wilson Schulberg)
Born March 27, 1914, in New York, NY; son of Benjamin P. (a chief of production, Paramount Studios) and Adeline Schulberg; married Virginia Ray, July 23, 1936 (divorced, 1942); married Victoria Anderson, February 17, 1943 (divorced, 1964); married Geraldine Brooks (an actress), July 12, 1964 (died, 1977); married Betsy Ann Langman, June 9, 1979; children: (first marriage) Victoria; (second marriage) Stephen, David; (fourth marriage) Benn, Jessica. Education: Dartmouth College, A.B. (cum laude), 1936.
Sports Illustrated, boxing editor; screenwriter for Samuel Goldwyn, David O. Selznick, and Walter Wanger, Hollywood, CA, 1937-40; full-time professional writer, 1940—. President and producer, Schulberg Productions. Founder and director, Watts Writer Workshop, Los Angeles, CA, 1965—; chairman, Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center, New York, NY, 1971—. Taught writing courses and conducted workshops at Columbia University, Hofstra University, Dartmouth College, Southampton College, Valley Forge General Hospital and in Watts and Los Angeles, CA. Trustee, Humanitas Award. Member of advisory board, Center for the Book, Library of Congress. Military service: U.S. Navy, 1943-46; became lieutenant junior grade; assigned to office of Strategic Service; awarded Army Commendation Ribbon for gathering photographic evidence of war crimes for Nuremberg trials, 1945-46.
Authors Guild (New York council member, 1958-60), Writers Guild of America (East), Authors League of America, Dramatists Guild, American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, American Civil Liberties Union, Phi Beta Kappa, Sphinx (Dartmouth).
The Disenchanted was selected as one of three outstanding works of fiction for 1950 by American Library Association, National Book Critics; Academy Award, Venice Festival Award, Foreign Correspondents Award, Screen Writers Guild Award, and New York Critics Award, all 1954, all for screenplay, On the Waterfront; Christopher Award, 1955, for novel, Waterfront; German Film Critics Award, 1957, for screenplay, A Face in the Crowd; Antoinette Perry Award Nomination for best play, 1959, for The Disenchanted; special Emmy award for Angry Voices of Watts; NAACP Image Award; recipient of humanitarian awards, including the Amistad Award, Watts Head Start Award, New England Theater Conference Award, and Muscular Dystrophy Association Award; also recipient of awards from religious organizations. LL.D., Dartmouth College, 1960, Long Island University, 1983, and Hofstra University, 1985.
What Makes Sammy Run? (novel), Random House (New York, NY), 1941, reprinted, 2002.
The Harder They Fall (novel; Reader's Digest Condensed Book Club selection), Random House (New York, NY), 1947, with a new foreword by the author, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 1996.
The Disenchanted (also see below; novel; Book-of-the-Month Club selection), Random House (New York, NY), 1950.
Some Faces in the Crowd (short stories), Random House (New York, NY), 1953.
Waterfront (also see below; Schulberg's novelization of his original screenplay On the Waterfront), Random House (New York, NY), 1955, D.I. Fine (New York, NY), 1987.
(Editor and author of introduction) From the Ashes: Voices of Watts, New American Library (New York, NY), 1967.
Sanctuary V (novel), World Publishing (New York, NY), 1969.
(Author of introduction) The Spratling File, Little, Brown, 1970.
Loser and Still Champion: Muhammad Ali, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1972.
(Author of introduction) Walter Sheridan, The Fall and Rise of Jimmy Hoffa, Saturday Review Press (New York, NY), 1973.
Swan Watch, photographs by wife, Geraldine Brooks, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1975.
(Author of introduction) Carroll Graham and Garnett Graham, Queer People, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 1976.
Everything That Moves (novel), Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1980.
Moving Pictures: Memories of a Hollywood Prince (autobiography), Stein & Day (New York, NY), 1981, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2003.
(Author of introduction) Harold Conrad, Dear Muffo: 35 Years in the Fast Lane, foreword by Norman Mailer, Stein & Day (New York, NY), 1982.
Love, Action, Laughter, and Other Sad Tales, Random House (New York, NY), 1989.
Sparring with Hemingway and Other Legends of the Fight Game, I.R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 1995.
(Author of introduction and contributor of additional articles) Malcolm M. Johnson, On the Waterfront: The Pulitzer Prize-winning Articles That Inspired the Classic Movie and Transformed the New York Harbor, Chamberlain Bros. (New York, NY), 2005.
Ringside: A Treasury of Boxing Reportage, I.R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2006.
Some Faces in the Crowd: Short Stories, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2008.
(With Samuel Ornitz) Little Orphan Annie, Paramount, 1938.
(With F. Scott Fitzgerald) Winter Carnival, United Artists, 1939.
(With Martin Berkeley) City without Men, Columbia, 1943.
(Adapter) Government Girl, RKO, 1943.
On the Waterfront, directed by Elia Kazan, Columbia, 1954, published with an afterword by the author, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 1980.
A Face in the Crowd (dramatization of his short story "Your Arkansas Traveler"), produced and directed by Elia Kazan, Warner Bros., 1957, published with introduction by Elia Kazan, Random House (New York, NY), 1957.
Wind across the Everglades, Warner Bros., 1958, published as Across the Everglades: A Play for Screen, Random House (New York, NY), 1958.
The Disenchanted: A Play in Three Acts (dramatization of Schulberg's novel by Schulberg and Harvery Breit; first produced in New York at Coronet Theatre, December 3, 1958), Random House (New York, NY), 1959.
What Makes Sammy Run? (dramatization and libretto by Schulberg and brother Stuart Schulberg, based on Schulberg's novel), produced for television by National Broadcasting Co. (NBC), 1959, produced in New York at Fifty-fourth Street Theatre, 1964.
On the Waterfront: A Play, I.R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2001.
(Author of film story) Weekend for Three, RKO, 1941. "The Pharmacist's Mate" (television play), produced for Pulitzer Prize Playhouse, 1951.
Also author of Señor Discretion Himself, 1990, and The Schulberg Report, a monthly magazine feature for Newsday Syndicate. Contributor to Esquire, Saturday Review, Harper's, Playboy, Sports Illustrated, and other magazines.
On the Waterfront (sound recording), L.A. Theatre Works (Venice, CA), 2003.
In his long writing career, Budd Schulberg has created many memorable characters, including scheming Sammy Glick in What Makes Sammy Run?, burned-out boxer-turned-union activist Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront, and power-mad hillbilly singer Lonesome Rhodes in A Face in the Crowd. In addition to his novels and films, Schulberg has produced nonfiction books on subjects ranging from the life of Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa to the careers of several famous authors. He has also chronicled his own early life in Moving Pictures: Memories of a Hollywood Prince.
Born in New York City in 1914, Schulberg became a Californian when his father, a producer in the fledgling motion-picture industry, moved his family to Hollywood following World War I. "By 1925 [Benjamin P.] Schulberg, as general manager of the Paramount Famous-Lasky studio, was one of the industry's most powerful figures," wrote Richard Fine in a Dictionary of Literary Biography article. "Thus Budd Schulberg witnessed the workings of the movie colony from an early age and a privileged position." As he relates in Moving Pictures, Schulberg's childhood years were a mixture of the exciting and the bitter; while given the run of a major film studio as his playground, young Schulberg was also an insecure, stuttering youngster who felt the pressure of his father's position and his mother's cultural aspirations, even as his father fell from power and his parents' marriage dissolved in acrimony.
Moving Pictures concludes with the eighteen-year-old Schulberg's departure for the East Coast to attend Dart-mouth College. Following his graduation in 1936, Schulberg returned to Hollywood and embarked on a screenwriting career. Among his assignments was a script written with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Winter Carnival. But Schulberg's first wide acclaim came in 1941 with the publication of What Makes Sammy Run?, his first novel.
The story of one young man's manipulation of both his friends and the Hollywood system in his desperate rise to power, What Makes Sammy Run? was an immediate and controversial success, and was considered one of the most incendiary romans a clef of its time. The novel is narrated by newsman Al Mannheim, who first meets the energetic Sammy Glick while Sammy is a teenage copy boy at Mannheim's New York newspaper. Within a few years, Glick has feverishly worked his way up to columnist and socialite. When Hollywood beckons, Glick steals the script of a struggling writer and sells it as his own. What follows is a series of betrayals and illgotten triumphs as Glick becomes a major film producer. At the same time, Mannheim, fascinated by Glick's ruthless ambition, traces the young man's past to the New York slum where he grew up in the midst of poverty and anti-Semitism.
What Makes Sammy Run? "is brilliantly effective because it is completely of its time, with snappy, brittle dialogue and repartee," wrote Dictionary of Literary Biography contributor Josephine Zadovsky Knopp. "In a very real sense, Sammy Glick is a victim of the American Dream, caught up in the vicissitudes of success and failure. Sammy's drive for money and prestige tells, in a very real sense, something about the first generation of Americans who came from impoverished immigrant families, determined to ‘make it’—fast and aggressively—and willing to sacrifice everything in order to do so." To Fine, Sammy Glick "is a bold parody of Horatio Alger's heroes: he succeeds over more worthy men not through pluck and luck but through shameless deceit and self-promotion. Hollywood, in the scheme of the novel, represents the moral bankruptcy of capitalism run amuck in America." Frank Campenni of Contemporary Novelists deemed What Makes Sammy Run? a minor classic, remarking, "The novel's fast pace, the picaresque audacity of the almost likable, conscienceless heel-hero, the predictable ending of the betrayer betrayed (and, implicitly, of the hunter about to be hunted) still add up, after fifty years, to one of the best Hollywood novels ever written."
Schulberg's portrayal of the ruthless Sammy Glick was also criticized as anti-Semitic. The author, according to Zadovsky, saw these attacks on Sammy—and on himself as a self-hating Jew—as "strikingly parallel to those attacks on Richard Wright's Native Son, also published in the same year: ‘I believe that for any single reader of Native Son who came away with a feeling of revulsion for the Negro race, ten closed the book with a deepened understanding of the conditions, the processes that turn a Bigger Thomas from a strong, ambitious, socially useful human being into a hunted animal that kills and hides…. I planned and hoped that my book would have a similar effect.’"
Another of Schulberg's notable novels is The Disenchanted, a story loosely based on the author's experiences writing the Winter Carnival script with a then-fading, alcoholic F. Scott Fitzgerald. While many critics and readers assumed that the novel's doomed character, Manley Halliday, is the Fitzgerald figure, the author maintains that the self-destructive Halliday was based on a variety of what he called the "walking-wounded" writers of his time, and that Halliday's story is a composite of their careers. The book, according to People Weekly contributor Ken Gross, "depict[s] the tragic fate of writers in Hollywood, who were showered with money but deprived of their most important asset—artistic integrity and control. Watching Fitzgerald descend into alcoholism in this environment, Schulberg discovered that success could be even more dangerous than failure. ‘To cope with fame, you have to be a saint,’ he says. ‘There are so many temptations, so many parties.’"
Schulberg has incorporated the sport of boxing into much of his work, including the novel The Harder They Fall, about corruption at the professional level; the nonfiction book Loser and Still Champion: Muhammed Ali; and the character Terry Malloy in the author's best-known and most acclaimed film, On the Water-front. The novelization of the screenplay, Waterfront, was well-received by critics. James Kelly of New York Times Book Review wrote: "One can … think of it as intensely personalized white-hot fiction with all the menace, suspense, narrative flow, fresh characterization, and social message anybody could reasonably expect in a novel." Kelly concluded that Waterfront "is the best of Schulberg, a full-fledged performance by a gifted American writer." Released in 1954, the movie "was the rarest of Hollywood phenomena—a somber, even bleak, black-and-white picture, keenly analyzed and often lavishly praised by critics, which nevertheless attracted millions of moviegoers to the box office," Fine reported in an essay for Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook. The movie won several Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay.
To research the story of union corruption on the docks of New York as seen through the eyes of a failed club fighter, Schulberg conducted a yearlong investigation of the waterfront and its neighborhoods. As Fine's article stated, Schulberg discovered that "‘at least ten percent of everything that moved in and out of the harbor’ eventually lined the pockets of mobsters and corrupt union officials, and ‘if you were one of the 25,000 longshoremen looking for work, either you kicked back to a hiring boss appointed by mob overlords with the connivance of "legitimate" shipping and stevedore officials, or they starved you off the docks.’" As the story unfolds, protagonist Terry Malloy decides to turn informer on the illegal activities. In a 1979 American Quarterly piece, Kenneth Hey felt that Malloy's "agonizing decision … mirrors Schulberg and [director Elia] Kazan's own difficult decisions in the early 1950s to testify as friendly witnesses before the House Un-American Activities Committee investigating Communist influence in Hollywood." According to Hey, "Ambivalence is the essential theme of On the Waterfront. The film argues openly that injustice can be remedied through existing political institutions, … but it grafts onto this basically liberal position the suggestion that individuals are frequently casualities of the conflict between right and wrong, and that the individual's response to the clash of absolute moral standards is ambivalent."
Some critics charged that On the Waterfront was a response to criticism Schulberg received from fellow writers for his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) during the McCarthy era. Schulberg had been a member of the Communist Party briefly during the 1930s, but had quickly become disillusioned with demands that Americans toe the hard-line policies established in Moscow. He also strongly opposed Josef Stalin's cooperation with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in the early years of World War II. Most importantly, however, he objected to the level of control that American party leaders demanded over the works that party members produced. In Schulberg's case, the breaking point came over his contract to write What Makes Sammy Run? Local Communist officials demanded that he cease work on the book; when Schulberg refused, he was expelled from the Party. "I knew that the Party was a very different animal from what we idealistically, in 1935 and 1936, thought it was," Schulberg said in a Tikkun interview. "And that this was not in any way an intellectual exchange or discussion. This was, ‘Do it or else.’" As for the charge that On the Waterfront was a response to left-wing criticism following Schulberg's testimony: "Mr. Schulberg denied any connection, while granting that his denial was probably ‘a lost cause,’" explained New York Times contributor Peter Steinfels. "Professor [James T.] Fisher [codirector of the Center for American Catholic Studies at Fordham University] backed up the denial, however, mentioning that while doing research he had found in Mr. Schulberg's papers an earlier waterfront crime script that had a similar theme but predated the Congressional testimony."
Social and political themes also pervade another Schulberg-Kazan collaboration, the 1957 film A Face in the Crowd. This lesser-known film is a precursor to such movies as Network in its examination of the power of the mass media in America. A variation on the Frankenstein theme, A Face in the Crowd focuses on two characters: Marcia Jeffries, a radio producer who discovers and helps "create" a star out of an itinerant hillbilly, and Lonesome Rhodes, the media creation who spirals out of control the more popular he gets, and whose eventual destruction comes at the hands of the woman who shaped his career. The movie was praised critically but was not embraced by the public of its time.
Among Schulberg's later works, most of his books—such as the political thriller Sanctuary V and the union saga Everything That Moves, based on the career of Jimmy Hoffa—received mixed notices from the reviewers. The most well-received work was Moving Pictures, published in 1981. New York Times critic Aljean Harmetz called the book "a loving son's portrait of flawed parents." While he "obviously loves and favors his parents," wrote Rob Edelman in Washington Post Book World, "Schulberg paints them intricately, with a knowingly realistic, three-dimensional brush." Janet Maslin of New York Times Book Review, however, noted that while Schulberg "recalls the triumphs of his father" and "marvels at his mother," he "most of all … celebrates Hollywood itself, and he celebrates something more than movieland glamour." And though Time reviewer Richard Schickel faulted Moving Pictures for Schulberg's "vagueness" in dealing with the darker side of his parents' personalities, he ultimately found that Schulberg's "long views of their world have the nostalgic charm (and the well-researched historical accuracy) of a good documentary."
Schulberg commented to Contemporary Novelists, "I have been influenced by Mark Twain, by Frank Norris, Jack London, Upton Sinclair, John Steinbeck, and the social novelists. I believe in art, but I don't believe in art for art's sake; while despising the Soviet official societal writing, I believe in art for people's sake. I believe the novelist should be an artist cum sociologist. I think he should see his characters in social perspective. I think that is one of his obligations. At the same time, I think he also has an obligation to entertain. I think the novel should run on a double track. I am proud of the fact that Uncle Tom's Cabin and The Jungle and The Grapes of Wrath helped to change or at least alarm society. I am proud of the fact that books of mine, Sammy, or On the Waterfront, caught the public attention but also made it more aware of social sores, the corruption that springs from the original Adam Smith ideal of individuality."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 7, 1977, Volume 48, 1988.
Contemporary Novelists, 6th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 6: American Novelists since World War II, Second Series, 1980; Volume 26: American Screenwriters, 1984, Volume 28: Twentieth-Century American-Jewish Fiction Writers, 1984.
Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook: 1981, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1982.
Schulberg, Budd, Moving Pictures: Memories of a Hollywood Prince, Stein & Day (New York, NY), 1981.
American Quarterly, winter, 1979, Kenneth Hey, review of On the Waterfront.
Booklist, June 1, 1995, Wes Lukowsky, review of Sparring with Hemingway and Other Legends of the Fight Game, p. 1716; September 1, 2006, John Green, review of Ringside: A Treasury of Boxing Reportage, p. 49.
GQ: Gentlemen's Quarterly, April, 1994, "He Shoulda Been a Contendah …," p. 109.
Interview, February, 1990, Lisa Liebmann, review of Love, Action, Laughter, and Other Sad Tales, p. 159.
Library Journal, June 15, 1982, review of Dear Muffo: 35 Years in the Fast Lane, p. 1216; December, 1989, Thomas L. Kilpatrick, review of Love, Action, Laughter, and Other Sad Tales, p. 175; June 15, 1995, Ron Chepesiuk, review of Sparring with Hemingway and Other Legends of the Fight Game, p. 76.
Maclean's, August 28, 1989, "Budd Schulberg in Great Gatsby Land," p. 56.
New Choices for Retirement Living, November, 1992, "Rosy Dreams vs. Harsh Truths: Do Your Values Change after 50?," p. 66.
New Republic, March 7, 1970, "Sanctuary V," p. 29; November 18, 1972, "The Four Seasons of Success," p. 30.
New Statesman, April 8, 1988, "The Disenchanted," p. 27.
New York Times, September 1, 1972, review of Loser and Still Champion: Muhammad Ali, p. 24; October 31, 1981, Aljean Harmetz, review of Moving Pictures, p. 15; May 31, 1983, Richard F. Shepard, review of Writers in America: The Four Seasons of Success, p. 19; July 17, 1983, Donald Hall, review of Writers in America, p. 9; December 4, 2001, "Two Boxing Fans Sure They're Doing the Right Thing," p. 5; May 3, 2003, Peter Steinfels, "Budd Schulberg, at 89, Reflects on a Most Unforgettable New York Priest," p. 16; November 21, 2006, "A Schulberg Collection for Dartmouth," p. 2.
New York Times Book Review, January 25, 1970, review of Sanctuary V, p. 40; November 2, 1975, review of Swan Watch, p. 50; July 13, 1980, review of Everything That Moves, p. 15; September 6, 1981, Janet Maslin, review of Moving Pictures, p. 9; July 17, 1983, Donald Hall, review of Writers in America, p. 9; April 26, 1987, James Kelly, review of Waterfront, p. 38; February 4, 1990, review of Love, Action, Laughter, and Other Sad Tales, p. 18; July 9, 1995, review of Sparring with Hemingway and Other Legends of the Fight Game, p. 21; April 7, 1996, review of The Harder They Fall, p. 24; December 31, 2006, "The Contender," p. 14.
People Weekly, July 4, 1983, review of Writers in America, p. 22; December 18, 1989, "Budd Schulberg," p. 93.
Publishers Weekly, April 30, 1982, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Dear Muffo, p. 52; February 11, 1983, review of Writers in America, p. 65; December 1, 1989, Sybil Steinberg, review of Love, Action, Laughter, and Other Sad Tales, p. 46; April 24, 1995, review of Sparring with Hemingway and Other Legends of the Fight Game, p. 54.
Tikkun, May, 2000, "Budd Schulberg," p. 9.
Time, July 27, 1981, Richard Schickel, "Moving Pictures," p. 79.
Times Literary Supplement, April 2, 1971, "Sanctuary V," p. 369.
Tribune Books, January 7, 1990, review of Love, Action, Laughter, and Other Sad Tales, p. 5; August 13, 1995, review of Sparring with Hemingway and Other Legends of the Fight Game, p. 7.